Summer Saps Online Shopping Energy

Busy days of summer play may be to blame for a drop in online sales last month, according to Internet research firm PC Data Online. In a just-released new study, PC Data announced that online buy rates dropped from 4.5 percent in June to 3.2 percent in July. Amazon.com retained its top ranking with a 7.1 percent buy rate, but buy.com, the second-ranked retailer in June, fell to ninth last month with a 6.7 percent buy rate.

Despite the nearly 30 percent total drop in online sales across the top 40 sites, the impact upon retailers was varied. Online drug seller PlanetRx.com moved up to the number two spot on PC Data’s sales ranking by maintaining a steady buy rate of 20 percent in both June and July.

Retailers of summer-related items also fared well, with chipshot.com breaking into the top 20 with a 20.8 percent buy rate for its golf equipment. Fogdog.com, which sells athletic apparel and sporting goods, also took advantage of the public’s drive to get outdoors. The retailer broke into the top 40 with 25,000 buyers and 541,000 visitors, for a 4.7 percent buy rate.

How PC Data Tracks Sales

PC Data Online uses data supplied by a random group of online shoppers to determine rankings and other shopping information for its monthly reports. Respondents download a special data-reporting applet called @PC Data from the PC Data Web site, allowing the firm to use gender, age, income and geography criteria to generalize about the overall Web population.

The July report sampled 60,000 home users — out of a total estimated 50 million in the United States — who are not using America Online’s proprietary browser. AOL users are expected to be added to the August study, which is now underway.

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